Blackened salmon with cilantro lime compound butter may be the easiest and most delicious salmon recipe you’ll EVER make. Never blackened salmon before? It’s as easy as seasoning a salmon filet with blackening seasoning and searing for 3-4 minutes per side in a pan or cast iron skillet. Cast iron is perfect for blackening fish because it renders the perfect crispy finish.
The process of blackening can completely transform chicken or fish into worlds of flavor. Patty and I seem to always have the same epiphany whenever we blacken salmon and wonder why we don’t make it more often.
Like, “Hey that was awesome, let’s not make that again for six months and totally forget about it!”
How to Blacken Salmon
Blackening is a Cajun-style technique involving heavily seasoning meat with a blend of spicy, smokey spices and pan searing or grilling. It renders the salmon (or anything) much darker due to the rub of spices. Not to be confused with burning or charring. If your salmon is actually black, you’ve gone too far…
There are a handful of pre-made blackening spices out there, Old Bay being one of my favorites and most accessible. You can also make your own with a combo of paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dried thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Basically it’s a simple way to add a lot of spice and flavor to any kind of meat.
Rub both sides of the salmon (you’ll want skinless filets) heavily with blackening seasoning and fresh lime juice…and I mean heavily—the more seasoning, the more flavor. Some blackening seasoning can be a little spicy, so be sure to taste a little before using.
Cilantro Lime Butter
Cilantro lime butter is the ultimate finishing touch on blackened salmon. I first started experimenting with different compound butters a few years ago from a Men’s Health cookbook called “Guy Gourmet.” Yes, manly recipes in an even manlier book (It’s actually a really great book). The cilantro lime butter was a keeper.
Compound butter is the process of mixing minced fresh herbs and spices into butter and serving as a condiment or topping.
Imagine garlic, lime juice, butter, and fresh cilantro drizzled over every bite of salmon. The lime and cilantro perfectly complement the smokey, spicy salmon. It literally makes this entire recipe worth it.Print
- 2 6-8 ounce salmon filets, skin removed
- 4 tablespoons blackening seasoning (such as Old Bay)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 lime wedges for garnish
Cilantro lime butter
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/2 lime, juice squeezed
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon ground dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
For the cilantro lime butter
- Place butter in a small bowl and microwave for 10 seconds, enough to slightly soften but not melt. Add garlic, cilantro, and lime juice.
- Use a fork to mix the butter together until combined. Spoon onto a small sheet of foil, forming a line, and then roll tightly to create a cylinder resembling a stick of butter. Place in the fridge for about 5 minutes and then set aside.
For the salmon
- Season each salmon filet with blackening seasoning until fully coated (about 2 tablespoons of blackening seasoning per salmon filet). Squeeze a little lime juice over each side of each filet and rub in.
- Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Sear salmon for 3-4 minutes per side, flipping once, for medium. Sear 4-5 minutes per side if you prefer your salmon more flakey through the center.
- Top each salmon filet with a slice of cilantro lime butter and serve with a lime wedge.
Remove cilantro lime butter from refrigerator 5 minutes before serving to bring to room temperature.